A new year is a time for many to make resolutions, both personal and professional.
It’s also time to reflect, for, as they say, you often need to look back to look forward. This brings me to a particularly noteworthy subject.
TRAC celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2020 and as part of its enduring legacy, previous President & CEO of TRAC, Glenn Maidment (along with our dedicated team) created a special 100th Anniversary book commemorating the association’s past century.
Some interesting milestones include the following:
1920s: Letters Patent officially incorporating The Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) were received on March 17, 1920. There were 16 founding member companies, including three brands that remain in the marketplace today: Dunlop, Firestone, and Goodyear.
1930s: Despite the Great Depression, RAC made important contributions to its membership including two successful lobby efforts: a reduction in Excise Tax on crude rubber coming from the British Overseas Territories and keeping high tariffs on imported finished goods.
1940s: RAC took great strides to support the war effort. In 1942, Canada moved to tire rationing for the general public with an exemption for essential vehicles. Many senior rubber executives were seconded to Rubber Control, a key section within the Federal Department of Munitions and Supplies. Rubber shortages led Canada and the USA to establish the Polymer Corporation in 1942 (later named Polysar) which was tasked with developing synthetic rubber.
1950s: Suppressed demand for consumer goods in the 1940s meant a boom for the rubber industry in the 1950s. RAC lobby efforts during this period focused on lowering Excise Taxes, securing more favourable freight rates from the railroads and steamship lines, and fighting dumping from some low-cost country producers.
1960s: Public policy, driving safety, and education also came into focus with RAC working with the Canadian Highway and Safety Council on promoting highway safety, including producing, and distributing video clips about safe summer and winter driving.
1970s: RAC continued to build its industry relationships and footprint. Its work included stakeholders such as the Canada Safety Council and the Canadian Council of Motor Transportation Administrators. RAC also expanded its reach internationally, working with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which continues to this day. Free trade and tariffs remained important RAC topics. With a growing variety of tire products, and with winter tires starting to take their rightful place in the Canadian market, RAC also started to conduct winter tire testing.
1980s: RAC suffered some internal membership ups and downs when Goodyear and Seiberling resigned their membership at the start of the decade, but eventually Goodyear was persuaded to rejoin, with Michelin, Bridgestone, Yokohama, Sumitomo, and Toyo all joining. RAC lobbied for and achieved a 10-year plan for duties phase-out for the tire and rubber industry to help the industry prepare for the Canada-USA Free Trade Agreement. As a result, the three tire manufacturers operating in Canada—Bridgestone, Goodyear, and Michelin—operate world-class facilities that are fully integrated into their manufacturing operations worldwide.
1990s: With massive fires in Ontario and Quebec, 1990 became the year of the tire fire in Canada. These pivotal moments remain a continuous reference point for tire recycling, end-of-life management, and tire sustainability efforts in Canada. As a result, many provinces created scrap tire management programs to address this pressing issue. RAC took on a leadership role in the creation of a global standard with the ASTM F-1805 test method becoming a voluntary, performance-based standard for winter tires. To distinguish the tires that meet this standard, RAC also led the development of the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMS) symbol with both the test and the symbol used throughout the world to distinguish tires designed for winter driving.
There aren’t many trade associations in Canada with a 100-year pedigree, so it is with grateful thanks that I applaud all Board, members, and staff, past and present, for their foresight, dedication, flexibility, and perseverance. For more information on 1920-2020: 100 Years of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].
Carol Hochu is President of the Tire & Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). You can reach her at [email protected]